Tag Archives: fire protection service

El Dorado Fire Burns 18,506 Acres, 63 Percent Contained | Corona, CA

INLAND EMPIRE, CA — Crews brought containment on the massive El Dorado Fire to 63 percent by Wednesday night, but thousands of evacuations were in place with 26,031 structures still threatened, fire officials said.

The “very dynamic” blaze had consumed 18,506 acres and injured 12 people, officials reported. More than 1,300 firefighting personnel are assigned to the blaze that has destroyed four homes and six outbuildings. It has damaged two other homes and six outbuildings, Cal Fire said.

“… great work by firefighting resources assigned to the El Dorado Fire continued today,” officials said Wednesday night. “The fire slowly backed down at low intensity into a retardant line placed along Hwy. 38 in the vicinity of Angelus Oaks. Ground crews were able to directly attack the fire utilizing hose lines to protect the community.”

A high-pressure weather system was in place Wednesday, causing hot and dry conditions, according to Cal Fire.

Evacuation orders remained in effect for: Mountain Home Village, Forest Falls, Angelus Oaks and Seven Oaks. Big Bear residents are not under evacuation but are asked to remain alert and watch updated orders.

Fire officials are asking evacuated residents to remain patient as crews continue to work in their neighborhoods. A Red Cross evacuation center is located at the Redlands East Valley High School, 31000 E. Colton Ave. in Redlands. Highway 38 is closed between Bryant St. to the south and Onyx Summit to the north.

Smoke from the El Dorado, Bobcat and Valley fires is impacting Inland Empire air quality. A Daily Smoke Report issued by the Wildland Fire Air Quality Program is available, and residents can also visit www.airnow.gov for air quality updates in their area. Most of Riverside County is forecast to have unhealthful air quality on Wednesday, officials said.

Cal Fire officials said the brusher was sparked Sept. 5 by a smoke-emitting firework used at a gender-reveal gathering of family members at El Dorado Ranch Park in Yucaipa. Record heat and dry conditions helped the fire quickly spread north to the Yucaipa Ridge, fire officials said.

The Desert Sun reported that the family who planned the small gathering was cooperating with authorities and that no charges have been filed yet.

Fire officials told the publication that the family called 911 after trying to extinguish the blaze themselves. They remained on the scene until firefighters arrived according to the report.Cal Fire Capt. Bennet Milloy said the blaze remains under investigation.

“Those responsible for starting fires due to negligence or illegal activity can be held financially responsible and criminally responsible,” CalFire officials said Sunday.

Milloy said investigators are testing the mechanism used at the family gathering to see if it’s considered a “safe and sane” firework. But he said “safe and sane” pyrotechnic devices are illegal in Yucaipa.

For more information about fire updates, call CJ Suppression at 888-821-2334 or visit the website at www.cjsuppression.com.

CJ Suppression proudly serves Corona, CA and all surrounding areas.

Mythbusters: Fire Safety Edition | Corona, CA

When you live in California, dealing with a fire season is something we are all familiar with. And now that we are smack dab in the middle of wildfire season, it is important that we are prepared for any type of fire that may arise during these hotter months. Preparation is necessary, but it’s critical that you know the truth regarding fire safety. The following includes a list of five common fire safety myths:

Myth #1: A smoke detector provides enough protection.

Fact: Having smoke alarms can be a vital part of fire safety, but they shouldn’t be your sole form of protection. They don’t put out the fire and if not regularly checked, smoke alarms may also fail to work.

Myth #2: You can control and put out a small fire on your own.

Fact: Many damaging fires start with a small accident. No matter how big or small the flames are, be sure to follow any fire safety instructions you have set in your home or workplace.

Myth #3: Fire sprinklers systems will freeze during winter.

Fact: Rest assured that proper procedures are put into place during a fire sprinkler installation process to keep it from freezing, regardless of the temperature.

Myth #4: People always panic during a fire.

Fact: Having a fire suppression system and emergency fire safety plan in place can help keep people level-headed.

Myth #5: Newer buildings are safer that older buildings.

Fact: Any fire, regardless of the age of your home or building, can be dangerous and potentially life threatening. Choose a fire suppression system to make your home or building as safe as possible.

For more information about fire safety myths, call CJ Suppression at 888-821-2334 or visit the website at www.cjsuppression.com.

CJ Suppression proudly serves Corona, CA and all surrounding areas.

East Contra Costa Fire Urges Vigilance in Preventing Fires and Injuries Over 4th of July Holiday | Corona, CA

Press Release by ECT -Jun 26, 2020

Brentwood, CA — As we roll into the Fourth of July, hot, dry and windy conditions are once again expected and ECCFPD is asking everyone to do their part in preventing fires and injuries caused by fireworks. NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) states that throughout the nation over the last several years that approximately half of the reported fires on the Fourth of July were started by fireworks.

“Because our first priority is the safety of our community, it’s important to remind people what a fire-safe 4th of July means,” said ECCFPD Fire Chief Brian Helmick.

Contra Costa County (and Fire District) is a “fireworks-free-zone”; therefore, the possession or use of fireworks of all types and sizes (including Safe and Sane fireworks) are banned in the county and the Fire District (County Ordinance 44-2.002 and East Contra Costa County Fire Protection District Ordinance 5601.1.3). The District includes the cities of Brentwood and Oakley Discovery Bay, Bethel Island, Knightsen, Byron, Marsh Creek, and Morgan Territory.

“Compounded by the Fire District’s underfunded resources we need to do everything we can to prevent and protect against the threat of fires to our communities”, Fire Marshal Steven Aubert added, “Fire Service personnel will be out enforcing these laws with our allied Police agencies”, he said.  Any person who starts a fire from fireworks – even accidentally – can be held liable for the fire suppression costs as well as property damage costs.

Possession of illegal fireworks that explode, go into the air, or move on the ground in an uncontrollable manner can lead to a possible fine of up to $50,000 as well as prison time or jail for up to one year.

“We appreciate that everyone wants to celebrate the Independence Day holiday.  We just ask everyone to please avoid the temptation of putting yourself and your neighbors at risk.” Fire Marshall Aubert stated.

The District wishes everyone a fun and safe 4th of July holiday!

Learn more at www.eccfpd.org.

For more information about 4th of July fire safety, call CJ Suppression at 888-821-2334 or visit the website at www.cjsuppression.com.

CJ Suppression proudly serves Corona, CA and all surrounding areas.

Putting Out Fires with Foam | Corona, CA

Extinguishers, sprinklers, hoses, even a towel – there are many ways to put out a fire. It really just depends on the situation and the type of fire. Firefighting foam systems suppress fire by separating the fuel from the air. Depending on the type of foam system, this is done in a few different ways:

  • Foam covers the fuel surface and smothers the fire.
  • The fuel source is cooled by the foam’s water content.
  • The foam blanket suppresses the release of flammable vapors that can mix with the air.

Engineered and manufactured fire suppression systems ensure a rapid, thorough, and economical response to fires and spills.  Customized to application specifications, our dependable engineered systems include bladder tanks and pump-type balanced-pressure proportioning systems; in-line balanced-pressure proportioning systems; high-expansion foam systems; large dry chemical systems and skids; twin-agent systems and skids; foam trailers; large dry chemical and twin-agent trailers; monitor trailers; aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF) pump systems; water-powered AFFF pump skids; foam/water monitors; nozzles; eductors; ratio-flow controllers; foam makers; foam chambers, and specialized proportioning storage and monitor trailers.

Listed high-expansion foam systems provide fire-fighting protection for diverse applications: aircraft hangars; basements; cable tunnels; flammable packaging areas; flammable liquid  drum storage areas; hazardous waste facilities; LNG tank farms and loading facilities; mines; roll-paper warehouses; shipboard engine rooms, bilges, and holds; storage buildings; warehouses; and fire breaks.  The light, voluminous foam blanket produced by our high-expansion foam systems can quickly obtain great heights, reaching elevated flammable materials (such as on storage racks).  The foam blanket efficiently transports small amounts of water to the fire, encapsulating the flammable vapors and causing suppression and extinguishment.

Are you curious to see how it works? Click here.

For more information about our foam systems, call CJ Suppression at 888-821-2334 or visit the website at www.cjsuppression.com.

CJ Suppression proudly serves Corona, CA and all surrounding areas.

Do You Have a Fire Escape Plan? | Corona, CA

Now that we have been sequestered to our homes, it’s a good time to ask yourself – what happens if there’s a fire? Are you and your family safe? One way to ensure that you and your loved ones are safe is to have a fire escape plan set in place.

Yes, having smoke alarms and fire extinguishers are necessary features for every home, but there are times when a fire spreads so quickly, you need to get out of the house as fast as you can to ensure everyone is safe. Because smoke alarms don’t activate until the smoke reaches their sensors, they don’t leave a whole lot of time to get out. If you have a designated route for each room to take, and you practice fire drills occasionally, the chances of you making it out safe and sound rise dramatically. After all, remaining calm is the best advice to have when a fire breaks out. Knowing what you are doing will help you do just that. Here are a few tips to keep in mind when designing your fire escape plan:

  • Use a floor plan to designate two escape routes per room.
  • Have a smoke alarm in every sleeping room and on every floor.
  • Keep routes clear and windows easy to open.
  • Choose a meeting place a safe distance away from your home.
  • Make sure your street numbers can be easily seen by the fire department and memorize the phone number of the fire department.
  • If your windows have security bars, make sure there are emergency release devices inside.
  • If there are babies or family members with mobility issues, make sure everyone can pitch in to help ensure they are safe as well.

For more information about our services, call CJ Suppression at 888-821-2334 or visit the website at www.cjsuppression.com.

CJ Suppression proudly serves Corona, CA and all surrounding areas.

Fire at West L.A. High-Rise Sends Residents Scrambling for Safety; Two Critically Injured | Corona, CA

By Hannah Fry, Alejandra Reyes-Velarde, Luke Money, Sonja Sharp

JAN. 29, 2020 9:54 PM

A fire broke out Wednesday morning in a 25-story Westside residential building, sending residents climbing out windows and fleeing to the rooftop to escape the flames. The blaze, which erupted on the sixth floor at the Barrington Plaza apartments in the 11700 block of Wilshire Boulevard, was reported shortly after 8:30 a.m. by fire crews, who were tending a nearby blaze that had begun earlier.

At least 300 firefighters responded to help battle the fire and evacuate residents inside the building. Eleven residents were injured; seven were sent to a hospital for treatment, including a 3-month-old baby, and four were treated at the scene. Most were suffering from smoke inhalation. Two firefighters suffered minor burns.

One 30-year-old man required CPR and was listed in grave condition Wednesday afternoon, and another 30-year-old man was in critical condition, according to Los Angeles Fire Capt. Erik Scott. “The preliminary information is the two most critically injured … were both in the unit of fire origin,” Scott said.

Fire officials initially reported that some people had jumped from the building to escape the flames. Authorities later clarified that two people contemplated jumping but were rescued by fire officials. Residents crawled on their bellies through thick smoke to escape. One man was seen clinging to a ledge before a fire ladder was hoisted up to him. “This could have been much worse,” Scott said.

Fire officials said residents won’t be allowed back into the building overnight while they investigate the blaze, which was deemed suspicious.

Firefighters took an unconventional approach in battling the flames, hosing the building from the outside in an effort to cool the units before allowing firefighters to tackle the flames inside. The bulk of the fire was on the sixth floor of the 240-unit high-rise, though three other levels were damaged by smoke, officials said.

While some crews focused on the fire inside, others were tasked with evacuations. At least 15 people, some in bathrobes, were airlifted to safety from the building’s rooftop. Officials said it was the first time the fire chopper had been used in rescue efforts. “This was a herculean effort by the members of the Los Angeles Fire Department,” said Fire Chief Ralph Terrazas. “It takes a lot of coordination, and our resources did a good job.”

After an intense, hourlong battle that was made more challenging by strong winds gusting up to 35 mph, firefighters were able to knock down the flames shortly before 10 a.m. Deputy Police Chief Justin Eisenberg said the Los Angeles Police Department and arson investigators were studying the blaze to determine whether it was criminal or accidental. No one has been arrested in connection with the fire, he said. The separate fire that started earlier in the morning about three blocks away also is part of the investigation.

Mackenzie Williams, 25, said she was driving to work at Pure Barre — a fitness studio at Wilshire Boulevard and Granville Avenue — about 9 a.m. when she “saw one firetruck pass by me, then I saw two, then I saw 10, then I saw about 20, so I definitely knew something was going on.” After seeing smoke pouring from the building and the helicopter evacuations, she said, “I just hope everyone is OK over there.”

John Tavakoli was outside when the floor where his grandmother lives burst into flames. As firefighters rushed to evacuate her and her neighbors, his initial horror settled into smoldering rage — another fire like this one had burned here a few years ago, but little had changed. Like others, he blamed the revolving door of short-term renters for unsafe conditions in the building.

“A lot of people Airbnb here.” he said. “They party all night — they’re up until 2 a.m. on a Tuesday.”

Meanwhile, he said, safety issues have gone unaddressed.

“Our rent goes up, utilities go up, but one elevator’s always broken,” he said.

Resident Gavyn Straus stood barefoot on the sidewalk, holding a towel around his American-flag bathing suit as he watched a Sheriff’s Department helicopter hoisting stranded neighbors off the roof. He had been in the pool swimming laps when he turned his head for a breath and noticed the smoke. Right away, he leaped out of the pool and dashed up to alert neighbors on his floor.

The smoke “was like a black wall” on the seventh floor, he said. Higher up, he started banging on doors, telling neighbors to get out.

Twins Kristina and Kimberly Pagano, recent UCLA grads, were asleep in their apartment when the fire broke out. They woke up to the sound of firetrucks. Moments later, the building fire alarm went off, and they rushed outside.

Both immediately thought of the 2013 fire, believed to have been sparked by a cigarette. The building still allows residents to smoke in their units on designated floors, which the sisters had toured before moving in. Like others, they said the building hosts a large number of short-term visitors.

“We always see people with luggage,” Kristina said.

“It’s like a hotel,” Kimberly agreed.

Officials have said that there is no indication the fire was caused by anyone smoking inside or that it broke out in a unit rented as an Airbnb. The building is covered by L.A.’s Rent Stabilization Ordinance, which limits annual rent increases for tenants, but some of its units are exempt from that law, according to housing department spokeswoman Sandra Mendoza. Under an ordinance that went into effect last year, Angelenos cannot rent out their apartments for short stays if they live in a rent-stabilized unit.

The 2013 fire erupted on the 11th floor of the building, displacing up to 150 residents and injuring two people. It also raised concerns about a lack of sprinkler systems in some buildings in Los Angeles. Barrington Plaza was not equipped with a sprinkler system at the time. Because it was built nearly 60 years ago, it does not fall under state regulations later adopted that forced buildings taller than 75 feet to include such fire-suppression systems unless granted an exemption.

Los Angeles has a loophole in its fire code that allows 71 residential high-rises to house tenants despite having no fire sprinklers in the buildings. The structures were built between 1943 and 1974, when new codes required sprinklers.

Deputy Chief Armando Hogan said Wednesday the building still does not have sprinklers. There have been repeated attempts to require older buildings to install sprinkler systems, including a push after Barrington Plaza’s last fire, but landlords at the time argued they would cost too much.

A year ago, the City Council again tabled a proposal to require sprinklers in all buildings. One of the sponsors of the measure said the issue lost momentum amid opposition from landlords, but Councilman Mike Bonin said he will reintroduce a mandate for sprinklers in light of the latest blaze.

Curtis Massey, chief executive of fire safety consulting company Massey Emergency Management, said the sprinkler systems typically seen in modern high-rises quickly douse flames before they have a chance to spread. “It’s like an on-duty 24-hour firefighter that’s able to respond faster in most circumstances to a fire than the building staff or the fire department,” said Massey, whose company has worked on fire preparedness plans for Century Plaza and the Wilshire Grand Center.

Modern fire safety features also include elevator and stairwell-pressurization systems that keep the smoke out of those areas, he said.

In 2014, a group of tenants in the high-rise sued the building’s corporate owner for negligence. According to residents, several fire alarms failed to sound in Barrington Plaza as the October 2013 blaze spread. A door to the roof was locked and the stairwells filled with choking smoke, tenants said. “The conditions at the supposedly high-end apartment building were atrocious,” attorney Mark Geragos said at the time.

Resident Ivo Gerscovich’s 2-year-old daughter and father-in-law were found unconscious in a smoke-filled stairwell above the 20th floor during the 2013 fire. “It’s a deathtrap,” Gerscovich said then. “It’s totally insane and indefensible.” Ben Meiselas, an attorney with Geragos’ firm, said the building “is a relic of the 1960s.” “It conformed to codes of the 1960s, and since that time, they’ve availed themselves through grandfather clauses of the building codes of that bygone era,” he said.

Meiselas said building owners should be required to prominently display whether their structures adhere to current codes. “You have this building that advertises itself as a class-A luxury building, but back in 2013, at least, it really had fundamental safety issues,” he said.

Residents said that they weren’t aware of any additional safety measures. “This situation really scares me,” said Ploy Pengsomboon, who was able to evacuate from her ninth-floor unit only after smelling smoke and hearing firetruck sirens. “I’m scared if one day I’m in a deep sleep and something like this happens. I didn’t get a chance to prepare. They should tell everyone to get out and shouldn’t let us learn about it ourselves.”

The blaring of a fire alarm woke 84-year-old Dan Karzen, who has lived in Barrington Plaza for 20 years. “I had my pajamas on, so I had to hurry to put some clothes on, grab my phone and walk out the door of my 16th-floor apartment,” Karzen said. “I knew it was bad because there was all this smoke.”

After leaving the building, he crossed the street to a strip mall, where he stopped to await word from fire officials. “I don’t know when we’re going to go back in, and I don’t want to leave because all my stuff is up there,” he said.

When Liz Bowers was jolted awake by sirens, she smelled smoke and immediately thought it couldn’t be another fire, remembering the 2013 blaze. But when she looked out her window, there it was. “I was like … it’s Tower A again,” she said. She had a clear view of the flames and clouds of black smoke. She could hear screams and windows blowing out from the heat of the flames. Bowers ran downstairs to the public pool area shared by the two buildings and continued watching as firefighters worked to quell the flames and rescue residents. After witnessing the dramatic events, she decided she’d had enough. She needs to move out.

Bowers thought about all the times she could smell cigarette and marijuana smoke from her apartment, the result of little oversight from building managers, she said. She spent three years knocking on the leasing office’s door, writing letters and making phone calls to building managers. Eventually, she gave up. “They should have put sprinklers in after the [2013] fire,” she said. “They let everybody smoke. There’s a lot of Airbnb [rentals]. You get all these people coming into party and smoke pot. The landlords don’t care.”

Times staff writers Matt Stiles, Dakota Smith, Colleen Shalby, Andrew J. Campa, Emily Alpert Reyes, James Rainey and Matthew Ormseth contributed to this report.

For more information about our services, call CJ Suppression at 888-821-2334 or visit the website at www.cjsuppression.com.

CJ Suppression proudly serves Corona, CA and all surrounding areas.

Canyon Fire Burn Area Winter Preparedness | Corona, CA

When rainfall events are predicted, stay alert, and monitor information sources. Those living in this area should follow city information and think about what to do should they be asked to leave their homes.

Based off predicted rainfall amounts and the duration of time in which it will occur, the National Weather Service (NWS) may issue a Flash Flood Warning. Flash Flood Warnings will be given via television, radio and wireless emergency alerts if your device is compatible. In the event a Flash Flood Warning is issued for the Canyon Fire burn area, evacuation orders may be given. If you are told to evacuate, please adhere to these orders, as they are given to ensure your safety.

The City of Corona has a local notification system that will send telephone notifications to resident and business during an emergency. Only landlines are in the system. Register your cell phone number and select if you would like to receive an additional notification by email and/or text. Visit www.CoronaCA.gov/ENS to register!

Remember when rainfall events are predicted regardless how large or small, stay vigilant as weather can change quickly.

In preparation for upcoming storms, up to ten free pre-filled sandbags are available for Corona residents at Santana Park. There are also sandbags at Fire Station #5 at Canyon Crest for residents of the Canyon Fire burn area.

  • Santana Park: 598 Santana Way
  • Fire Station #5: 1200 Canyon Crest Drive

It is important to remember areas within and downslope of the Canyon Fire burned areas have an increased risk of erosion, flash flooding and debris flows. Remember when rainfall events are predicted regardless how large or small, stay vigilant as weather can change quickly.

For more information about our services, call CJ Suppression at 888-821-2334 or visit the website at www.cjsuppression.com.

CJ Suppression proudly serves Corona, CA and all surrounding areas.

More Than 30 Injured in Texas Refinery Plant Explosion | Corona, CA

More Than 30 Injured in Texas Refinery Plant Explosion

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California

The city of Baytown says that Irving-based Exxon Mobil has requested some nearby residents shelter in place as a precaution.

More than 30 people were injured in an explosion and subsequent fire at refinery plant fire near Houston, officials said.

The fire, which is burning polypropylene materials, started Wednesday morning at the Exxon Mobil Baytown Olefins plant, located about 25 miles east of Houston.

The city of Baytown says the fire is in an area that contains polypropylene material and that Irving-based Exxon Mobil has requested some nearby residents shelter in place as a precaution. Baytown city officials said three people suffered injuries and drove themselves to a hospital, according to Houston NBC affiliate KPRC.

Exxon Mobil issued the following written statement about the fire:

“A fire has occurred at the Baytown Olefins Plant. Our fire teams are working to extinguish the fire. We are conducting personnel accounting. Our first priority remains the safety of people, including our employees, contractors and the surrounding community. As a precaution, our Industrial Hygiene staff is conducting air quality monitoring at the site and fence line. We are cooperating with regulatory agencies. We deeply regret any disruption or inconvenience that this incident may have caused the community.”

The area has seen large fires this year involving other petrochemical companies, too.

In April, one worker died after a tank holding a flammable chemical caught fire in Crosby. And in March, a fire burned for days at a petrochemical storage facility in nearby Deer Park.

For more information about fire updates, call CJ Suppression at 888-821-2334 or visit the website at www.cjsuppression.com.

CJ Suppression proudly serves Corona, CA and all surrounding areas.

Fire Sprinklers in the Home | Corona, CA

Did you know that small fire can start with just a little flame and fully submerge a room in less than three minutes? That’s an extremely short amount of time. But if fire sprinklers are available, they can reduce the risk of death by about 80%, so why would you not install them in the home? It may seem unnecessary, but here are six reasons you may change your mind:

  • The sprinkler heads activate individually. Fire sprinkler heads activate only over the area where the fire is. Only the sprinkler heads closest to the fire will activate to spray water on the fire.
  • Fire sprinklers are activated by heat, not smoke. For instance, if smoke from a recently blown out candle or burnt food from an over or toaster will not trigger the fire sprinkler like a smoke detector.
  • Many fire sprinklers activate within 30-60 seconds, growing and spreading while the firefighters are in route. The longer it takes to put out a fire, the higher the risks for residents and property damage.
  • Residential fire sprinklers are smaller than commercial sprinklers and can be incorporated into the ceilings of many homes. Residential sprinkler fixtures are available in many types of finishes to make them more inconspicuous.
  • Fire sprinklers cause less water damage than a fire hose. Fire hoses discharge 80-125 gallons per minute, while fire sprinklers only discharge around 8-25 per minute.
  • Smoke alarms only alert residents but won’t extinguish a fire. Fire sprinkles can put out a fire while the residents flee from their home, increasing people’s safety and reduces the amount of property damage.

For more information about fire sprinklers, call CJ Suppression at 888-821-2334 or visit the website at www.cjsuppression.com.

CJ Suppression proudly serves Corona, CA and all surrounding areas.

Fighting Fire with Fire: Ventura County Crews Use Controlled Burns to Prevent Wildfires | Corona, CA

Jeremy Childs, Ventura County Star Published 1:54 p.m. PT May 30, 2019 | Updated 10:05 a.m. PT May 31, 2019

A new study backs up what Ventura County firefighters already knew: A controlled blaze at a time and place of their choosing can prevent a disaster later. With that in mind, local firefighters became fire starters when they conducted their first controlled burn of the year to get rid of built-up vegetation that can fuel a brush blaze into a monster wildfire.

Controlled burns like Wednesday’s – which cleared at least seven acres of tall grass on a ranch in Hidden Valley – can also revitalize soil and give trainees the skills to battle wildfires. Yet despite their effectiveness, a study concluded not enough controlled burns are taking place in the western U.S. to keep wildfires from raging out of control.

The study by University of Idaho researcher Crystal A. Kolden laid the blame mostly on federal agencies that control large amounts of land in the West.

But Kolden conceded that the agencies’ resources are also consumed by firefighting instead of prevention and that they’re dealing with a public that’s more fearful of controlled burns in the western U.S. than elsewhere. Public concerns include excessive smoke and flames getting out of control.

Even if federal agencies seem reluctant to conduct controlled burns, state and local agencies aren’t, the study found.

“Whenever we have to opportunity to do them, we do them,” said Capt. Brian McGrath, a spokesman for the Ventura County Fire Department.

He said his agency is committed to using controlled burns to prevent wildfires, a sentiment echoed by the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, also known as Cal Fire.

Cal Fire spokesman Scott McLean said the state has stepped up its prevention efforts after a series of major wildfire seasons that included Ventura County’s Thomas, Woolsey and Hill fires. “The idea behind it is to provide for the safety and protection of property and bring our forests and lands back to resiliency,” McLean said, noting that the recent drought has increased the amount of dry vegetation that fuels wildfires.

‘We have a lot of work ahead of us’

Tasked by Gov. Gavin Newsom with identifying the top 35 areas where fuel-reduction efforts are needed, Cal Fire has come up with about 90,000 acres of land to target. As of early May, Cal Fire had burned 10,518 acres this year, according to McLean, a number that’s grown in the past 30 days.

The state has increased funding for the efforts, letting Cal Fire dedicate six hand crews to thinning wildfire fuel, and has sent 110 National Guard troops to help for six months.

Cal Fire has also performed about 100,000 inspections of defensible spaces this year, and aims to complete 250,000 through December. Despite the doubled-down efforts, McLean cautioned against thinking the problem is taken care of with extra money and resources. “We have a lot of work ahead of us for quite some time,” he said.

The burden in California may be on Cal Fire and local agencies.

Kolden’s study, published Wednesday in the peer-reviewed journal Fire, showed that in places where controlled burns have increased in the past two decades, they’ve mostly been conducted by state or local agencies. In the same period, controlled burns by federal agencies shrank from more than 90% of burns to less than 30%.

Kolden found that from 1998 to 2018, controlled burns grew in acreage by 5% per year throughout the U.S., although there was a 2.3% decrease in Southern California. Kolden found 70% of all controlled burns and 98% of the increase was in the southeastern U.S., which Kolden said could be why that region has seen fewer recent wildfire disasters than the western U.S.

‘There’s a lot to take into account’

While the Ventura County Fire Department may be sold on the idea, conducting controlled burns is easier said than done, according to McGrath. Choosing the location alone can be complicated. “You have to take into consideration the impact on wildlife, water runoff, the type of fuel,” McGrath said. “There’s a lot to take into account.”

The jurisdiction of the land can also play a huge role, as state or federal land is more highly regulated than county or privately-owned land.

“It’s a lot easier to do on private property,” McGrath said. “We’re under the same protocol as an agriculture company burning their crops.”

Even with a location picked out, unexpected factors such as high temperatures or gusty winds can delay controlled burns. McGrath said his agency works closely with the Ventura County Air Pollution Control District to determine the best days to perform burns.

But Mother Nature sometimes beats firefighters to the punch.

“We had a half dozen scheduled, and the Thomas Fire took them all out,” McGrath said.

Jeremy Childs is a breaking news and public safety reporter covering the night shift for the Ventura County Star. He can be reached by calling 805-437-0208 or emailing jeremy.childs@vcstar.com.

For more information about wildfire safety, call CJ Suppression at 888-821-2334 or visit the website at www.cjsuppression.com.

CJ Suppression proudly serves Corona, CA and all surrounding areas.